Not my family; I don’t frolic.

Halfway through a family vacation in Mexico’s Maya Riviera. Hot and sunny, within two hours of deplaning everyone got sun burned. That hasn’t hindered the girls from recreating, Thank God. Trust me, nursing a red skinned kid with the shivers is not how you want to spend spring break, unless, of course, you want to catch up on Mexican soap operas. Yet, the tropical heat is welcome respite from the endless Chicago winter. We are blessed to be here, one and all.

We are here with my brother, Jeremy and his young son, Jasper. Some of you in Adland might know my brother. Jeremy currently works for JWT in New York. His boy is a firecracker. How the lad is not sunburned is a mystery to all of us. Though my brother, who is a single father rightfully takes credit for militantly applying sun block on his lone progeny.

Today the sky was powder blue with scattered white puffy clouds. My eldest daughter commented that the vista “looked like the opening scene of The Simpson’s.” I smiled, wistfully. Back in the day TV reminded people of nature not the other way around. Still, at least she referenced quality programming in her reverse analogy.

Speaking of technology, I forgot to sign up for an International Plan for my Blackberry. Even before we got sunburned the email came warning me that I’ve already reached my roaming limit, charges will follow. I tossed the phone into our room safe, which is just as well.

We met a nice family from Arizona. They have a girl roughly the age of one of mine. Gwen is brazen for her age. She pointed at my eldest calling her short for her age and later to my middle child calling her chubby. I asked her if she thought she was at a zoo, pointing like that? My sarcasm was lost on her. She has the bad manners of an only child. I’m sure her parents call it confidence.

Last night at dinner I had the whole red snapper, partly because I love freshly grilled fish and partly because I knew the kids would get a kick out of it. Sure enough, the pink head with its big eyeballs was a hit. I made it “talk” for even bigger laughs.

So, that’s the vacation so far. And this is my holiday post, written blissfully on the deck overlooking the brackish river outside our room. Tonight we go into town; such as it is, for more seafood and endless baskets of chips. Adios.


Nothing says me writing by hand like a bad stock photo.

I’m writing this on a legal pad. With a pencil no less! That’s right. Since I’m on vacation I wanted to write in the sunshine I paid so dearly to find. Problem is one can’t see a laptop’s screen in broad daylight. I’m sure there are corrective measures for this but I don’t possess any. Besides, who wants sunscreen on their keyboard?

Yes, I’m writing poolside. Please don’t let your understandable contempt for me keep you from reading any further.

First thing I notice is how awful my handwriting has become. Not that it was ever pretty, but it’s doctor-prescription bad now. Oddly, I can still read every word, Weird that. Kind of like a mother who can discern her child’s cry in a sea of children.

Dinosaur alert! I remember when I wrote everything with pen or pencil: journals, poetry, letters, first novel, and yes, ad copy. I used to sit in my favorite bar on my favorite stool and write, write, write. Eventually, a curious woman (I hoped) would sit down beside me and strike up a conversation or, more likely, one of the bar’s other regulars would join me. Either way, I worked until pleasantly distracted. Quite a system I had. I got to do everything I loved simultaneously: writing, drinking and hooking up.

Thankfully, I don’t drink anymore (another story) and marriage precludes hooking up. The writing I continue, obviously, but now, like you, I do so on a computer.

One of the regulars at Max Tavern was another scribe by the name of Ray Pride. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He writes film criticism for New City and other media. He and I would happily wile away the evening hours writing and chatting and drinking –copiously.

Ray was religious about keeping a journal. Even then he’d already amassed countless pages of prose, encompassing numerous notebooks, which I now assume fill a closet. In addition to penning his move reviews, Ray documented anything witty, funny and interesting. Be it anecdote or joke, it went in the notebook. I assumed he was collecting all this for his great American novel or screenplay. Egotistically, I often wondered how many things I’d said might have made it into his journals. Though we don’t converse, I follow Ray on Twitter

Old school even then, there was something grand (grandiose?) about writing in a notebook, in a bar, until drunkenness or a woman provided suitable interference.

Now I bring my laptop most everywhere and I’m comfortable writing in it most anywhere. Yet, it isn’t the same. Better, you say? I suppose: like using digital photography instead of film. Maybe inevitable is a better word than better.

Oops…my youngest daughter has just ambled my way asking for a good scratch on the back. She’s peeling a bit. I take my pencil and lightly rub it over her skin. The tool still has many uses.

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“Stay out of my vacation!”

I haven’t seen an advertisement in five whole days. Not a one. It’s not like there aren’t any TVs or magazines or Internet at the Ganesvoort Hotel in Turks & Caicos. I just haven’t been paying attention to them.

The New York Times is handed to me each morning at breakfast, a faxed version, free from ads of any kind. A nice touch, I kind of like it that way. The kids watch TV in the morning and at bedtime but I don’t. Yes, I put on ESPN or CNN during my morning visit to the gym but I only glimpse at it during moments of weakness. Or when they flash a score. (I like knowing athletes are doing their thing when I’m doing mine.) Even the NCAA basketball tournament barely holds my attention. I think the Badgers lost but I don’t know. Maybe I’ll check ESPN’s website. Maybe. I hear they passed healthcare.

On one of my now infrequent tweets, I noted that my head feels like a conch shell left out on the beach. It’s true. The noise of civilization is being replaced by the sounds of waves lapping up on the beach, people chattering from the tiki bar, that odd sort of music you hear beside the pool –Sade is it? Under these conditions the first thing to go is my advertising radar. It’s like the conch shell has a built in Tivo. Ads go bye bye.

You’re thinking: it’s your vacation, asshole! Of course you’re not thinking about ads. You’d be crazy to think about ads on your vacation.

Not so fast. I’m writing this aren’t I? I’m not abandoning my blog. That I cannot do. It is as crucial to my vacation sanity as a good book to read. I’m thinking it’s not the same thing as work. Not for me anyway.

My brother, Jeremy, who has just joined us with his family, is not so quick to let it all go. From bits I’ve overheard, he’s been on the phone with people in New York and Seattle discussing the latest spots they’re doing for Microsoft. Did you know, that in addition to creating campaigns for the tech giant, he also serves as the voiceover for Bing? Nice work if you can get it. I kidded him about doing a phone patch from the pool. Seriously, I’m proud as hell of the man. He does a great job.

I hope and trust that he will be able to stop doing a great job, for at least a few days. I’m thinking he will. Tropical air and the smell of conch fritters does things to a man. Come tomorrow he’ll be just as stupid as me. Let’s hope.

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